Kerry Carter never saw it coming.
A tap on his shoulder. A brief meeting. A thank you. And that was it.
Two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks were over without warning.
"I thought I had a good pre-season," the running back from Henry Carr said. "I thought I proved I could be the No. 2 back. The whole thing came as a surprise to me.
"Other than draft day, where I kind of knew I wasn't going to get picked, this is my biggest disappointment. First time I've ever been cut. Didn't even talk to the coach (Mike Holmgren). I assume that's how they do things around here."
As the NFL season begins in full today, Carter remains in Seattle, rehabbing an injured ankle that kept him out of the final pre-season game, waiting for the phone to ring.
He could have filed a grievance over his release because of the injury but chose not to.
"I didn't want to send out a negative message. I want to be ready when (another team) calls me."
A team he won't be ready for, this soon, are the Montreal Alouettes, who hold his Canadian Football League rights. After two years with the Seahawks, Carter wants to exhaust all NFL possibilities before considering the CFL.
"I'll have some friends over and watch the games. I'll be watching my boys, hoping my boys do well."
At least until he gets picked up somewhere else.
THIS AND THAT
The suddenly retired Vinny Damphousse clearly was the best first-round pick the Maple Leafs have made over the past 20 years. He surpassed the careers of those drafted before him in 1986 -- Joe Murphy, Jimmy Carson, Neil Brady, Zarley Zalapski and Shawn Anderson ... Scott Stevens can relax in retirement. His career NHL earnings: $52.1 million ... The times they are a'changing: Jerry Rice, Al MacInnis, Stevens and Damphousse and the soon-to-be-announced Mark Messier all retire and Gilligan passes away ... How hard did MacInnis shoot? With two slapshots -- one to the head, one between the legs -- MacInnis turned Mike Liut from all-star goalie to also-ran ... Wonder how history would have changed had an arbitrator awarded Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind'Amour to New Jersey instead of Stevens -- it was one or the other -- as compensation for the signing of Brendan Shanahan ... What people don't remember: After being awarded to the Devils, Stevens vowed never to report to New Jersey. That vow lasted a week or so during the 1991 Canada Cup tournament.
HEAR AND THERE
Maybe Rob Babcock has it all figured out. If he sets the Raptors expectations so low, the team can't help but exceed them and suddenly he is the smart guy. Or the opposite. You be the judge ... Pat Quinn is the guy who should be telling people the Leafs won't win as many games as last time hockey was played. But even if he believed it, he'd never say it ... Sammy Sosa post-drug testing: 14 home runs, 45 RBI, a .221 average ... In Marius Czerkawski's past four NHL seasons, not counting the year Montreal kicked him off the team, his point totals have diminished from 70-to-62-to-51-to-49. Which is why the Leafs paid minimum wage to bring him in ... Jesse Palmer lost his third-string quarterbacking job in New York to a different kind of Giant, Jared Lorenzen. The guy is 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, left-handed and known as the Pillsbury Throw-Boy or the Hefty Lefty.
SCENE AND HEARD
When Kim Clijsters won the Canadian Open, everybody whined that the absence of Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Serena Williams wrecked the tournament. Now that Clijstersmade the U.S. Open final and she trounced Sharapova in the semi-finals, shouldn't our perspective change just slightly? ... Can't we dial down all this Jesse Lumsden hype? Yeah, the guy ran for thousands of yards, but a lot of it came against high school teams like York and U of T. Meanwhile, Toronto's Dahrran Diedrick, who rushed for 2,653 yards at Nebraska signs in Edmonton and there's barely a whisper about it ... And this from Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury News: "I'm getting juiced about Barry Bonds' return." ... Ted Lilly didn't pick the right season to fight injuries and pitching consistency. He's eligible for arbitration in the fall.
AND ANOTHER THING
Wonder what Milt Stegall's numbers would be like if he had Doug Flutie and Jeff Garcia throwing to him the way Allen Pitts did in Calgary ... Andre Agassi and James Blake: The best tennis theatre no one stayed awake to witness ... Watching Tom Brady on Thursday night leaves only one conclusion: If he stays healthy, New England wins the Super Bowl again ... Who was calling the Argos' plays in the fourth quarter on Labour Day? John Huard? ... And who thought football players read anything other than playbooks? Players at Ball State, David Letterman's alma-mater, have been suspended for inappropriately acquiring school books ... The whisper about, in these tragic times, is that the Saints will never play another game in New Orleans and will end up in Los Angeles ... The Red Sox are making history: Never has a team been this good with pitching that bad ... What separates Jerry Rice from almost anyone who has ever played: Ask who is the best quarterback of all-time and you get an argument. Ask who is the best running back of all-time and you get an argument. Ask who the best receiver is, and the answer is obvious ... And hey, whatever became of Mike Weir?